Ethiopia is an ethnic jigsaw puzzle of different tribes – Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan, Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta and Somali. Meles Zenawi and a Tigrayan elite ruled the country but they began to lose their grip on power after his death in 2012.
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has warned rebel forces in Tigray region his ultimatum has now expired and they should be prepared for a final offensive on their capital, Mekelle.
Abiy, who ironically won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for reaching an agreement with neighbouring Eritrea, commenced air strikes and a ground offensive on 4 November after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began a revolt.
Tigrayan forces have put up stiff resistance and have accused Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki of being in cahoots with Abiy by sending troops across the border.
Tigrayan forces fired rockets into Eritrea at the weekend and have also threatened airports in neighbouring Amhara province.
The Ethiopian military claims to have undertaken “surgical” air strikes on TPLF targets in Mekelle but the Tigrayans have posted images of bombed houses.
The fighting has driven approximately 25,000 refugees north, across the border into Sudan, and there are fears that many of them will migrate through Egypt or Libya to Europe.
Ganet Gazerdier, 75, who fled the town of Humera in western Tigray, told AFP: “I saw bodies dismembered by the explosions. Other bodies were rotting, lying on the…